I Am Way Too Busy

I am officially back at CMU. Crash course in Maya (a 3D graphics program) means I’m living in the computer cluster, and when I’m not I’m either doing Chinese homework or in dance rehearsal. I have no life! Yay!

I’ve realized that cooking is hard. I like cooking when I have a lot of time and a fun recipe to try, but that’s almost impossible. With my schedule, I usually cook my dinner when I wake up in the morning and take it with me to school, because I don’t come home until 10pm at night. I have breaks during the day but I live way too far away – it’s not worth it to go home. Also, cooking without a fully stocked kitchen is really tough. All the time I’m freaking out, ugh I don’t have garlic! Why didn’t I buy peas? I need tortillas! Life is hard.

A really good friend of mine lives downstairs from me, so Saturday morning we made pancakes for breakfast. Just out of the box, because we were lazy, but they were good. Next time we’ll throw in fruit or chocolate chips or something. I think we’re going to make breakfast a regular thing, so expect some yummy breakfast recipes coming your way soon.

Today I had a bit of free time (free time? what is that?) so I decided to try out a cool recipe I found on Pinterest. I love fried cauliflower, so I thought this might taste similar but with less work and less oil, and it did! They’re like healthy, guilt-free french fries. Unfortunately all the cauliflower on the right side of the pan got a little burned, so I think my oven has a hot spot. Also, next time I think I will turn down the temperature a little bit. Also also, I didn’t have nearly as much cauliflower as the recipe called for, so I eyeballed the amounts a little. For this though, it really doesn’t matter.

Baked Cauliflower Fries
Original here.

2 heads cauliflower
1/4 C olive oil
1 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin

 Preheat oven to 400 degrees (next time I’m going to try 375).
2. Wash and cut the cauliflower (or be lazy like me and buy it pre-cut).
3. Mix olive oil, salt, pepper, and cumin in a large bowl. Throw all the cauliflower into the bowl and mix until leach piece is evenly coated. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty.
4. Spread evenly on a baking sheet covered in foil. Bake for 45min to 1 hour until browned, turning each piece over every so often for even crunchiness.
5. Serve, preferably with ketchup. I’m much more of a mustard girl, but I definitely say ketchup for these.

Back to the Grind

I’ve been in Pittsburgh for a week now, and it still feels weird. I haven’t been here since May, and it’s surprising how much I’ve forgotten. Not important things of course, but just little things like where certain classrooms are or what street that one restaurant is on. It’s nice to be back with my friends, but I miss Hong Kong. And LA. Mostly just warm weather.

I always say I hate snow. That’s a lie. I mostly just hate cold. I don’t mind snow when it’s like this:

Beautiful. Clean and white and all the sidewalks are nicely shoveled so I don’t have to walk in any of it. What I don’t like is this:

Gross. It’s disgusting and brown and dirty and slushy and you have to walk through it to cross the street and your shoes get all wet and blahblahblah I hate it. Unfortunately the entire walk from my new apartment to campus is gross snow like that.

Speaking of new apartments, my kitchen is tiny. Not that I was expecting anything fancy, but honestly I don’t think I could possibly have any less counter space. We’ve got a decent number of cabinets, but drawers? Try two. TWO DRAWERS IN THE ENTIRE KITCHEN. I wish I could take out the dishwasher and replace it with drawers.

I’m going to share with you my delicious breakfast from this morning. I’ve made it before, but this time I actually took the time to measure out the ingredients. It’s really filling, so I eat it on days when my schedule is weird and I know I won’t get lunch until 2 or 3 o’clock or if I know I’ll need extra energy, like today! Today we had dance auditions, so I needed the extra fuel AND I’d be getting late lunch. So it was a perfect day for this.

Quinoa Oatmeal

1/2 C dry quick oats
1/2 C cooked quinoa*
1 Tbsp brown sugar
dash cinnamon
dried cranberries (as many or as few as you want)
2 tsp flax meal
1 tsp chia seed
2/3 C soy milk

Mix together all dry ingredients in a bowl, then pour in soy milk. Microwave for 1:00-1:30.

*I usually keep a big container of quinoa in the fridge since I go through it so quickly, so I just have it on hand in the morning for breakfast. It cooks 2:1 with water in a rice cooker, or you can do it on the stovetop.

What Month Is It?

I’ve been back in sunny Southern California for about two weeks now, loving this weather and absolutely dreading my return to Pittsburgh and the snow. It’s “cooled off” a bit here, down to about 75 everyday, but it was high 80s last week. Feels like summer. I hate snow.

I’ve got a couple recipes for you. It’s been so hot that I’ve been making smoothies almost everyday for lunch. This one has hidden veggies in it, but unlike my Tropical Green Monster it doesn’t have a scary color.

Berry Green Smoothie

1 C frozen mixed berries (I used strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries)
1/4 – 1/3 C milk, as needed (I used soy but any milk would be fine)
1 Tbsp chia seed
1 Tbsp flax meal
soy protein powder
1 large handful fresh spinach leaves
agave nectar, to taste

Blend until smooth and serve.

Then the other day, my mom and I tried out a new recipe for vegetarian chili. It was really delicious but it took a lot of work. It wasn’t difficult but just cutting the vegetables took forever because there was so much. I must say, though, this is a pretty substantial chili. Some of my meat-eating friends seem to think there’s no such thing as vegetarian chili – I think they should try a bowl of this. It’s got some really interesting ingredients – coffee and chocolate – that give it a really unique flavor.

Spicy Vegetarian Chili
Original recipe from Food Network Magazine, Jan/Feb 2012

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 large bell peppers (1 red, 1 green), chopped
4 medium carrots, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp chipotle powder
1/4 tsp adobo seasoning
1 Tbsp tomato paste
2 corn tortillas, torn into pieces
1/2 C brewed coffee
1 28 oz. can whole plum tomatoes, crushed
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 15 oz. cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 head cauliflower, grated
1/2 C fresh cilantro, chopped
cheese, onions, corn, etc. for topping

 In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell peppers, carrots, and salt, stirring frequently for 8 minutes or until carrots are soft.
2. Add garlic and cook 2 more minutes.
3. Stir in chili powder, cumin, coriander, oregano, chipotle, adobo, tomato paste, and tortillas. Cook about 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add a splash of water if the mixture begins to stick.
4. Add coffee and let simmer 30 seconds until almost completely reduced.
5. Reduce to low heat. Add tomatoes, cocoa powder, beans, and 2 1/2 C water, and let simmer for 1 hour 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
6. Stir in cauliflower and let cook an additional 10 minutes.
7. Dig in!

How do you eat chili? Just in a bowl? My mom puts it over rice, or sometimes we put it on baked potatoes, but my first choice will always be the Frito Pie. How do you make a Frito Pie, you ask?

Just like that. Asian noodle bowl is optional.